woman with locked up sign
© Reuters/Jim Urquhart
Alienation?
A viral prank that promised to see two million alien hunters breach the gates of Area 51 has ended with a whimper instead of a bang, drawing only a few dozen enthusiasts for the much-anticipated 'raid.'

Initially a mock Facebook event, "Storm Area 51" quickly became a phenomenon that garnered interest from hundreds of thousands of netizens, who signed up to blaze past police and military guards to "see them aliens" at the top-secret Nevada facility. Some celebrities who'd promised to join in heated up the memeful event even more, while the authorities tried to pour cold water on even the idea of a peaceful alien-themed festival, calling it unsustainable.

So what epic action unfolded in the middle of the Nevada desert on Friday morning as the pulled-in reinforcements readied their rifles and K9 guards stood poised at the perimeter? Well, you guessed it - none of it.

Egging each other on to "stick to the plan," a small crowd gathered outside the gates of the Area 51 complex in the early hours. A survey of reporting on the event put between "several dozen" and "a couple hundred" people who gathered near Area 51, falling far short of the over two million RSVPs gathered on Facebook.

The even smaller group of "raiders" - seemingly populated in large part by YouTube bloggers - milled right at the facility's entrance and chatted up the guards.

Though many revelers could be seen performing their best "Naruto runs" outside the gates, none dared to face down the US military and attempt to force their way in, perhaps best for all involved. The most shocking case of unrest boiled down to one man reportedly arrested for public urination, while another woman was detained by police for reasons undisclosed.

Aside from the "raid," a number of other competing Area 51-themed events are being held in the general area around the site. A Google search of "Area 51 events" brings up a litany of festivals, concerts and parties held both around Nevada and the country in honor of the brave 'raiders.'

While a music festival dubbed Alienstock was scheduled for the town of Rachel, Nevada, the event was canceled at the last minute over concerns about a massive influx of tourists, as the town itself has only about 100 residents and no adequate infrastructure for crowds. But alien hunters looking for a big party still hope to find one in Las Vegas, where the relocated Alienstock is set to run as an electronic music show. More "serious" UFOlogists can attend "Area 51 Basecamp," which features a roster of expert speakers.

For those who couldn't attend, RT's video agency Ruptly set up a live feed from the Alien Research Center in Hiko, Nevada.

"What I think this symbolizes personally is we're ready for disclosure, and the general public wants people to show it to us, or we're gonna come and get it," a UFO enthusiast named Jason told Ruptly. "Now, granted, sure they wanna put a gun to the head, arrest you, all that kind of stuff," he added. "But maybe it's going to help get the point across that we're taking it seriously. I already got the glasses, now we just need the ETs."
Jason
© Ruptly
Jason, a UFO enthusiast
At the end of the day, despite the small turnout at the raid and the failure to achieve its lofty goals of making first contact, perhaps the memes alone made the whole thing worth it.